In the tertiary (service) sector, where Parcelforce Worldwide operates, good customer service is vital and quality service is one way to gain competitive advantage. A change in strategy from product to customer has turned Parcelforce Worldwide into a profitable business. Parcelforce Worldwide research has shown that it costs five times as much to gain a customer as to retain one. The ICS (Institute of Customer Service) says customer service is improving across the UK – and the economic downturn may be an important contributory factor.

The recently published UK Customer Satisfaction Index by the ICS (January 2009) shows that companies have to be ready to go the extra mile today for customers who are more demanding and more savvy than ever. The experiences of the top 10 companies in the survey show there are many areas where companies must pay attention to customer expectations (The Times, 11 February 2009).

The first essential is to know their customer base, something that not all companies pay attention to. They must then recruit the right people to serve them and ensure, through training and motivation that the enthusiasm of frontline staff is maintained and their knowledge of the product is high. Staff must learn to work as a team and listen to, understand and value customers. This includes not only selling them the product or service, but also dealing promptly and sympathetically with any complaint when something has gone wrong (The Times, 11 February 2009).

Read the Times 100 case study on Parcelforce Worldwide showing the importance it places on customer satisfaction.